Getting There and Settling In:
On Friday the girl and I drove up to New Hamshire with Cannon loaded on the roof of the car, the car full of camping gear, and the dog asleep in the back. We were really looking forward to a fun weekend in NH. What should have been about a three hour drive up there took us about six hours due to AWFUL thunderstorms in the area, torrential downpours, and even a hailstorm. Ever sit in your car stuck in traffic helplessly listening to the sound of hail bouncing off the top of your carbon bike? Yeah.... its not very much fun! But we eventually made it up there, rushed through registration for the race to beat the saturday crowds and then made up our campsite and settled in with a quick dinner by the fire with some liquid carb loading.
Our campsite was pretty deluxe. I borrowed a huge tent from a friend of mine and we had a queen size air mattress and then a 3" pillowtop mattress cover I had on top of that as well. So our bed was SUPER comfy and I didn't regret camping one bit! And on the plus side just about everyone around our campsite was a triathlete in the race so it was super quiet at night and very easy to sleep. The facilities at the camground were quite good as well and it was a quick walk to clean showers, and bathrooms. I'd definitely go that route again over a hotel room.
On thursday of this week I completed my first 2.4 mile open water swim as part of my prep for the Ironman. So part of me felt like 1.2 miles was going to feel really short and easy and part of me was worried my arms were still tired. Well I was definitely tired! When the swim started my heartrate spiked pretty quickly. So I spent the first part of the swim heading out to the first turn buoy just trying to relax and find a rhythm. I found some feet and just followed them for a while. After the turn the water got a bit more choppy and I wasn't swimming as straight as I would have liked, but I felt ok... tired but ok. I had originally hope to really push my pace at this point but I just felt like I didn't have that in me so I just settled into my pace. As I approached the last turn buoy the wave behind me of young guys caught me. They were all pretty agressive and I got pummelled at this point. Lots of leg grabbing and bumping. I pushed through it best as I could and rounded the last turn buoy nice and wide to avoid the mess. On the way in I brushed up against an orange cap dude who was an ass and very aggressive. Apparently nobody ever brushed up against him as he got pretty rough and pushed/punched me right in the left hip. Apparently I was crossing in front of him and he wasn't happy about it. Whatever... I just kept swimming. At this point I was ready for the swim to end. It hadn't felt short at all and my arms were tired. When I got out of the water and looked at my watch I was pretty surprised. I knew I wasn't fast today, but I was surprised to see how slow I was. 43 minutes?!?!?!?! WTF!!! I did my 2.4 mile swim the other day at a 2:00/100 pace in 1:25. I went slow that day as I had no idea how to pace an effort that long. I think I can realistically swim a 1:20 for my ironman if all goes well. So to see 43 minutes for 1.2 was pretty bad. I was expecting 36-40 minutes. But whatever... time to focus on the rest of the day.... In reality my swim time was the only real dissapointment of the day, and in the grand scheme it was pretty minor.
TOTAL SWIM 1.2 mi. (43:40) 2:05/100y
T1: T1: SWIM-TO-BIKE 1:59
T1 went pretty quick for me. There was a decent length run to get to my bike from the water and I did my best to really RUN that part. I took advantage of the wetsuit strippers and then headed to my bike. Quick transition there and I was off and ready to really have at the bike course.
BIKE SPLIT 1: 27.2 mi 27.2 mi (1:22:13) 19.85 mi/h
The run was once again not what I wanted it to be. Which is not due to nutrition or bike pacing or anything else. I actually felt pretty good on the run. But my right leg issue is still there and just isn't going to go away. Its a frustrating limiter. It just doesn't want to let me run much faster than 8:30s for any length of time. The run course was also quite challenging. It rolls throughout with a pretty decent steep hill at around mile 4 of the two lap course. The first time up the hill it was a shocker... the second time it was BRUTAL! I felt pretty good on the first loop, and not as good, but decent on lap 2. For a while I thought I might hold a sub 8 minute pace, but that didn't last much past the first few miles. It was REALLY HOT out there. Which led me to make some odd choices! There were volunteers handing out ice which was to be used to cool youself with. I was so hot I decided I just didn't care and put it in my mouth. Hec, I've eaten worse I'm sure! But the Make A Wish foundation folks handing out giant ice cold towels are my absolute heroes! Those were amazing and I held onto mine for the whole race and kept it cool by putting ice and the "snowballs" they were handing out which were fantastic. I shoved ice in places I never though I'd put it before. Anything to keep cool. It was interesting comparing notes with my friends after the race... we all definitely hit some tough spots out there and were all suffering in the heat. You can see the suffering and some of the goofy things I did to keep cool in the pictures that follow...
Here's the run splits that tell the rest of the story as my pace slowed....
RUN SPLIT 2: 6.55 mi 3.275 mi (27:47) 8:29/mi
RUN SPLIT 3: 9.825 mi 3.275 mi (29:56) 9:08/mi
RUN SPLIT 4: 13.1 mi 3.275 mi (27:49) 8:29/mi
TOTAL RUN 13.1 mi (1:51:58) 8:32/mi
All in all though I can't complain. I managed a 5:26:xx on zero taper after the biggest build month of my life getting ready for the ironman. I've put in HUGE volume lately, 17 hour trianing weeks and then to have a race like I did yesterday with no taper makes me very happy. Just another step on the way to the Ironman. I have no complaints, had a great day on the course with my friends and a great weekend with the girl even if the severe weater in NH meant we packed up the campsite a day early and rushed home to escape it yesterday.
As much as I wish I could get to the point of being able to think about going sub 5 for a half some day I know I just need to wait until maybe next season to aim for such a thing. I am just going to have to hope that some time off and dedicated strength training and rehab work over the winter will bring my right leg back to last year's running form. In reality its already starting to feel like its improving but its on the ragged edge of getting worse so I've been babying it quite a bit lately and being really smart about my run volume. When I look back at this race and think about what I could have done better (other than obviously tapering for it) I think I could get my swim time better by 3-5 minutes, and if my run form would come back then theres another 15 minutes back. So thats an improvement by up to 20 minutes which gets me back on the edge of thinking about sub 5 again. For now thats just a dream, but its a fun one to think about. Time to shift focus now to B2B. I probably won't race another half this year, although I'm considering using the FIRMMAN half iron as a full distance ironman pace excercise. Not sure about that one yet.
Next up this week is a much needed recovery week. I'm off ot Raleigh for the week with work so I'm going to plan on doing nothing for 2 days, then some yoga/stretching for a couple of days and then ease into some light spins on hotel bikes and short runs, and some easy swims in the pool and then start another big build period when I get back next week. Timberman definitely showed me that I'm on track for where I want to be this season and I'm very pleased overall. Good things are definitely on the horizon!